Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, The Minister of Finance, has launched a $50 million endowment fund for the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI). The fund is established to complete, furnish and equip the centre’s new multi-purpose building into a world-class teaching and research centre.
The launch of the fund took place on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the WACCI in Accra recently.
Mr Ofori-Atta said by instituting the fund, the government had demonstrated its commitment to ensure that education in agriculture was of quality and could create more quality jobs in the country.
The occasion was attended by government officials, students of agriculture and representatives from some African countries. It was on the theme: “The March Towards Food and Nutrition Security in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
The finance minister said the government was investing in science and technology and building universities to encourage more students to study agriculture to improve on food security in the country.
“Agriculture is the core driver for industrialization and poverty reduction, as well as job producer in the country,” he said.
He added that more than one billion people in Africa were faced with food insecurity, with about 27 per cent of the number at the risk of starvation.
On behalf of the Ministry of Finance, the minister contributed a seed money of $1 million to the fund and promised to “mobilize 25 per cent of the targeted funds to ensure early completion of the WACCI building,” he said.
He expressed optimism that the new building when completed would become a focal centre for agriculture education and research in Africa.
The Minister for Education, Dr Matthew Prempeh, said the curriculum in agriculture studies was to be reviewed to suit the job market and satisfy the needs of industry players.
As the sector minister, he said he would put the necessary measures in place to promote quality education. He stressed that “with quality education we can transform the fortunes of the country.”
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, stated that the university had identified food security and nutrition as one of four key research areas to pursue.
“In the quest to become a world-class research-intensive university, it has to make strategic investments in agriculture by supporting centres such as the WACCI in many ways,” he said.
At the same event, the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, reiterated the government’s decision to provide farmers with improved seeds to boost agricultural productivity.
He pointed out that the government would, this year, begin a pilot scheme to select and provide improved seeds to 200,000 farmers across the country, as well undertake an assessment of its constraints before implementing a further seeds distribution programme in 2018.
He said improved seeds to be distributed include that of rice, maize, sorghum, soya and some vegetables.